Search Engine Marketing

In recent years, the advancement in internet and mobile technology has impressed a
paradigm shift in the world of advertising. Many individual and corporate businesses
are swiftly moving into the online space to utilize digital marketing and advertising to
amass traffic to their business that could multiply sales of their products and services.
With millions of businesses out there all vying for the same customers, it’s never been
more important to advertise online, and Search Engine Marketing, SEM is the most
effective way to promote your products and grow your business in an increasingly
competitive marketplace.

What is Search Engine Marketing SEM?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy used to increase the
visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid
advertising. Search engine marketing has proved to be an effective traffic acquisition
strategy that allows firms and businesses to target consumers by placing ads on search
engines. When successfully implemented, SEM can generate steady traffic levels and
tremendous return on investment (ROI).
Search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the
opportunity to place their ads in front of motivated customers at the precise moment
they’re ready to make a purchase. No other advertising medium can do this, which is
why search engine marketing is so effective and such an amazingly powerful way to
grow your business.

Why is SEM vital?
With an increasing number of consumers researching and shopping for products
online, search engine marketing has become a crucial online marketing strategy for
increasing a business or company’s reach.
In fact, the majority of new visitors to a website find it by performing a query on a
search engine. In search engine marketing, advertisers only pay for impressions that
result in visitors, making it an efficient way for a company to spend its marketing
funds. As an added bonus, each visitor incrementally improves the website’s rankings
in organic search results.
Since consumers enter search queries with the intent of finding information of a
commercial nature, they are in an excellent state of mind to make a purchase,
compared to other sites such as social media where users are not explicitly searching
for something. Search engine marketing reaches consumers at exactly the right time:
when they are open to new information. Results are immediate with SEM. It is the
arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to a website.

How SEM works
Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might
enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the
opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.
These ads, often known by the term pay-per-click ads, come in a variety of formats.
Some are small, text-based ads, whereas others, such as product listing ads (PLAs,
also known as Shopping ads) are more visual, product-based advertisements that allow
consumers to see important information at-a-glance, such as price and reviews.
SEM incorporates Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites the
website content and site architecture in order to achieve higher page ranking in
search engine result pages and enhance pay per click (PPC) listings. To generate best
results, both organic SEO and paid SEO practices must have shared goals and
combined metrics.
Search engines use complicated algorithms to ensure the most relevant results are
returned for each search, including location and other available information. In paid
search advertising, sponsored ads appear at the top of and on the side of search
engine results pages to gain more visibility and prominence than the organic results.

How SEM works
Let’s say that you are a customer looking for a product or service online. You go to a
search engine and type in your search terms (also known as keywords). In your search
results page, you will come across various company ads whose keywords match the
keywords in your search. These ads appear in prominent locations on the page – along
with the other search listings that match your keywords. The paid listings are highly
relevant to your specific search, making it likely that you will click on them.
Now let’s take a look at how SEM campaigns work from the marketer’s perspective.
SEM networks are self-serve operations. Once a marketer selects a network, they can
get a campaign up within a short period of time. When setting up a campaign within
an SEM network, the marketer is prompted to:

1. A person finds your ad. If the keywords in your ad
match a search, your ad appears next to or above
the search results.
2. A person then takes action by reaching out to you.
You can create a call to action (CTA) on your ad, so a
person has the option to visit your website or call.
3. A person searches online for a product or service.
They’ll enter search terms (called keywords) into
search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
• Conduct keyword research and select a set of keywords related to their website
or product
• Select a geographic location for the ad to be displayed within
• Create a text-based ad to display in the search results
• Bid on a price they are willing to pay for each click on their ad
The Search Engine Marketing Ad Auction
One of the most enduring misconceptions about search engine marketing is that
whomever has the largest advertising budget wins. Although a larger advertising
budget can certainly be advantageous, especially when targeting highly competitive
keywords, but it’s far from a requirement for success with search engine marketing.
This is because all ads go through a process known as the ad auction before appearing
alongside search results. For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll be focusing on
the ad auction in Google AdWords.

How the Ad Auction works
The ad auction process takes place every single time someone enters a search query
into Google. To be entered into the ad auction, advertisers identify keywords they
want to bid on, and state how much they are willing to spend (per click) to have their
ads appear alongside results relating to those keywords. If Google determines that the
keywords you have bid on are contained within a user’s search query, your ads are
entered into the ad auction.

How Ads win the Ads Auction
Not every single ad will appear on every single search. This is because the ad auction
takes a variety of factors into account when determining the placement of ads on the
SERP, and because not every keyword has sufficient commercial intent to justify
displaying ads next to results. However, the two main factors that Google evaluates
as part of the ad auction process are your maximum bid and the Quality Score of your
Maximum bid is the maximum amount you have specified you are willing to pay for a
click. Quality Score is a metric based on the overall quality of your advertisement.
Google calculates these metrics during the ad auction to determine placement of
advertisements. The result of this calculation is known as ad rank.

Examples of Search Ad Networks
The two primary search networks that SEM professionals target are Google Ads
(formerly Google Adwords) and the Bing Ads.
Google AdWords is actually two networks: Google Search Network and Google Display
Network. The first network consists exclusively of search-related websites owned by
Google, while the second includes properties such as YouTube, Blogger and Gmail.
The Bing Ads allows customers to buy ads on both Yahoo’s network of websites and
Bing’s network.
While Google Ads is a much larger network (around 2x the size), the pricing is often
lower on Bing Ads. Marketers may be able to get a better rank for a competitive
keyword phrase for less than they get on Google. And some report that the
clickthrough rates are higher as well.
How Search Engines work
• Search engines like Google or Bing find organic listings by crawling the internet
with spiders that analyze the text on your website, documents, and other
• The search engines also consider the data in your website’s source code called
meta tags, and whether other sites are linking directly to your website.
• For Google, the goal is to provide the best results possible. So, if people aren’t
clicking on your site from the SERP Google will update its algorithms to focus
on higher quality fits for an inquiry.

Keyword Analysis
The keyword analysis is one of the most important, valuable and high position activity
in Search Engine Marketing field. It requires to know about intent of the user’s query.
In order to perform the keyword analysis or research, we should be aware of various
keyword research SEO tools. A keyword analysis is performed by identifying the
popular keywords that matches with the content of the website based on its
relevance and potential conversion rate and then building the website with the
targeted keywords. The keywords should be monitored and updated frequently to
reflect evolving best practices of SEO techniques. It is used to find alternative terms
that users enter in search engine. Each search engines provides their own keyword
suggestion SEO tools. Using the search engine information about the popular keyword,
the website developer can build the website with the keywords which have highest
value and the highest ROI, in turn benefit the website developer to successfully
position their site in top of the SERP of the search engine. It has been found that
searching for keyword with low competition and still high number of searches results
in higher web traffic.

SEM versus SEO: What’s the difference?
SEM is the wider discipline that incorporates SEO. SEM includes both paid search
results (using tools like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, formerly known as Microsoft
adCenter) and organic search results (SEO).
Generally, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to paid search marketing, a system
where businesses pay Google, Bing or other search engines to show their ads in the
search results pages. SEM delivers ads to users who are already searching for the
products or services that an advertiser is offering, meaning that theoretically, they
are only receiving qualified traffic. Unlike traditional banner ads, advertisers are
charged based on the number of clicks they receive, not on the number of impressions
(number of times an ad appears). PPC ads can be very effective in terms of driving
home a brand name because they appear alongside search results for thousands of
different search terms.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is different because businesses don’t pay Google or
other search engines for traffic and clicks; rather, they earn a free spot in in the
search results by having the most relevant content for a given keyword search.
Both SEO and SEM should be fundamental parts of your online marketing strategy. SEO
is a powerful way to drive evergreen traffic at the top of the funnel, while search
engine marketing is a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions at the bottom of
the funnel.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It is the method of getting traffic from
the “free,” “organic,” or “natural” search results on search engines. This method is
the process of increasing your presence through unpaid efforts. The ads that appear
on the search engine results pages (SERPS) that are unpaid are known as organic
results. Organic search is a term that describes search results that are naturally
generated through a search engine and aren’t influenced by organizations or search
It’ll take careful planning, research, and consideration to utilize SEO effectively.
Search engines are smart, but they also need a little guidance from time to time. It’s
important to know what your audience is searching online and how to get the
information they seek.

SEO– The Benefits
• Awareness – Visibility in search engines for your targeted keywords puts your
business in front of potential customers in much the same way as if you were to
advertise, and it drives brand awareness.
• Branding – Visibility around commercial search terms and informational queries
related to your business area can have a positive branding benefit. Your brand
can become associated with and trusted by people who are asking questions as
they conduct research that will lead to a purchase.
• Continuous Flow Website Traffic – Increasing website traffic provides you with
more opportunities to drive awareness of your business and educate a prospect
as to why they would buy from you.
• Sustainability – Unlike PPC, organic traffic does not dry up the moment you
stop paying. As such, efforts to develop organic traffic can sustain a business
when marketing spend is cut back.

SEO– The Drawbacks
• Results Will Take Time – The most noticeable drawback of SEO for business is
the very slow time-frame for generating real results. The process involves
understanding your content indexed by search engines which could take several
hours, days or even weeks.
• Website Content Optimization – You’ll need to develop content optimized to
achieve strong organic visibility. Not all businesses have the in-house resources
to tackle content development, and this can pose a problem.
• No Guarantee for Results – When executing an SEO campaign, there are no
guarantees that your business will land in the opening pages of search results
using the keywords you are targeting for.
• You’re Not in Control – Google has full control. What you think matters in
search rankings may deliver results that are opposite to what you are
expecting. You have no control over how much traffic you will generate and
what type of traffic you will be getting from all your SEO efforts.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Keyword
Marketing is a model of advertising that allows businesses to pay only when a person
online clicks their ad. Search engines like Google and Bing make pay per click
advertising available on an auction basis where the highest bidder typically earns the
most prominent placement. Paid search gives you a much higher level of control when
it comes to the searcher’s ability to find your website on the SERPs. With PPC,
advertisers tell Google for which search terms they want their ads to show. Google
then displays their ads and charges them when someone clicks on their ad and directs
the person to their website – pay per click.
It’s important to note that search engines will reward advertisers that create relevant,
well-targeted PPC campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks. If ads and landing
pages are straightforward, Google charges you less per click, leading to higher profits
for your business. So, if you want to start using PPC, it’s important to take the time to
develop a solid PPC campaign.

PPC– The Benefits
• Quick Setup – Get up and running quickly with a little bit of optimization. It’s a
big contrast to starting up SEO efforts, which usually take a lot of time and
development to get the same type of positioning and traffic that Google Ads
offers within minutes of launch.
• Page Positioning – Paid search dominates above-the-fold content. With
typically four ads on desktop and three on mobile, a user will always see the
paid search ads, even if they choose to scroll past them.
• Measuring & Tracking- A significant benefit of PPC advertising run through
Google Ads and it’s easy to measure and track. Just use the Ads tool in
combination with Google Analytics. You’ll see high-level performance details
including impressions, clicks, and conversions. There’s no mystery to your PPC
• Targeting – Ads are aimed at search keywords, time of day, the day of the
week, geography, language, device, and audiences based on previous visits.
PPC– The Drawbacks
• Cost – If you’re a novice, then you can quickly burn through your budget. For
example, you set up a PPC campaign blindly, and your website receives a large
number of clicks, but they are not your target audience. The unfortunate part
is you still have to pay for them. Just because PPC can produce results
instantaneously, it doesn’t mean that those results are the ones you want
• No Money, No Ad- When your campaign stops running, so does your ads- It’s as
simple as that.
• Bidding Wars – When two or more PPC advertisers compete for a top ad
position, it can turn into a costly “bidding war” because you’re taking a bite out
of some other advertiser’s digital apple. Entering a bidding war can spike the
costs. SEO and PPC have their pros and cons. If you’re unsure of which route to
take, you can connect with a marketing agency, like Top Floor, to discuss your
business strategy and gain valuable perspective from certified industry

SEO and PPC – Working Together
Companies tend to approach SEO and PPC as separate strategies. And while they have
their differences, it can be helpful to think of SEO and PPC as having the same end
goal in mind: increase visibility & traffic. Sure, SEO and PPC have different
approaches to achieving that goal, but there are ways in which they complement each
other. The benefits of running SEO and PPC together include:
• More Conversions with SEO & PPC
SEO & PPC will boost the chances of your website dominating the search
results. Improving the site by applying the SEO technique will improve the
chances of it making it appear at the top of search engine results for at least
one or even more keywords. Also, if you decide to buy PPC ads for that same
keyword, then this ad will appear at the top of the page every time someone
else searches for the keyword. In the long run, create more traffic and
subsequent conversions.
• Gets More to View Content
PPC campaigns can target a broad base of customers over social media, SERPs,
etc. PPC campaigns need not be restricted to landing pages alone but can
direct individuals to infographics, written content, etc. Eventually, this helps
to boost your SEO because more people are getting to view your content.
Putting Data to Good Use Both SEO and PPC are excellent sources for a
significant amount of data. PPC and SEO obtained their data separately. Some
of the metrics that you can analyze from SEO and PPC campaigns are clickthrough rate, bounce rates, exit rates, time spent by the prospect on the
website, and conversion rate. These figures give valuable insight into which
keyword leads to the most number of conversions and which keywords lead to
the least.
• Helps Lower Ranking Websites Performance
You may wonder if your website is already at the top of the search engine
listings for a specific keyword, then PPC campaign is irrelevant to run ads for
the same keyword. However, studies had pointed to the fact that when the
search ads for a particular keyword were paused, almost 90 percent of the
traffic that was generated by such ads was not replaced by the SEO-based
rankings. Meaning if you stopped PPC ads in between, there was a good chance
that the traffic had a negative impact even with high ranking sites. PPC helps
to retain the clicks and interest from prospects that may have been missed if
they were not there. This is of more significance to those websites that are not
ranking on top. PPC will help to draw the interest of those who are looking for
your specific product services for the small amount of money that you pay for
these ads instead of losing them.
• Improving Keywords
SEO takes up more time, research and money. When you want to target a
specific keyword and want to use it for SEO purposes, you may not be sure
whether it will worth the time and money. For that, it’s better to test keywords
through PPC. It’s better because the results are immediate. If your PPC efforts
perform well, it means that the website should be optimized for the keyword.
If it is the other way around, it is a good idea to avoid SEO efforts for that
specific keyword. SEO and PPC Together Can Improve Your SEM PPC and SEO
campaigns can be turned into one entity to save money and time. Both rely
heavily on keywords, visibility, and target audience to drive traffic to your
website. Building your brand with these marketing tactics can be critical to the
success of your future online efforts.

Best SEM tools

• SEMRush
• Google Trends
• Google Ads Keyword Planner
• HubSpot’s Ad Tracking Software
• SpyFu
• WordStream

SEMRush allows you to conduct extensive keyword research, keyword rank tracking,
site audits, traffic analysis, and more. SEMRush is a fantastic tool for finding
opportunities to rank for long-tail keywords organically, but additionally, you can use
the tool for various SEM efforts. For instance, you can use SEMRush to figure out
where your competitors are concentrating their marketing efforts, and analyze their
regional presence, to figure out how much money you want to put behind certain
Additionally, SEMRush enables you to discover your main paid search competitors,
figure out which keywords they’re bidding on, and study the composition of their ads.
This is vital information when you’re cultivating your own paid strategy and are unsure
how to out-rank other businesses on the SERPs.
Google Trends
Google Trends allows you to track search volume for a particular keyword across a
specific region, language, or time frame — which can enable you to identify which
search terms are trending, and which ones aren’t. Since you don’t want to put money
behind a keyword that’s decreasing in popularity, this is an incredibly useful tool for
your SEM efforts.
Additionally, particularly if you work for an ecommerce business, the ability to gauge
interest in your product or service in a certain geographical area is undoubtedly
powerful for ensuring you tailor your paid efforts to specific locations, saving you
money in the long-run.

Google Ads Keyword Planner
Since Google is likely where you want your ads to appear, it makes sense to consider
using Google Ads Keyword Planner to research relevant keywords for your business,
and keep track of how searches for certain keywords change over time. The Keyword
Planner will help you narrow down a list of possible keywords to ensure you’re
choosing the most effective ones for your business.
Additionally, Keyword Planner will give you suggested bid estimates for each keyword,
so you can determine which keywords work with your advertising budget. Best of all,
once you’ve found your ideal keywords and are ready to launch an ad campaign, you
can do it all from within the tool.
HubSpot’s Ad Tracking Software
You’re not paying for ads for the fun of it; you’re paying for ads because you want to
generate leads and drive revenue for your business. The HubSpot Ads tool helps you
go beyond traffic and click metrics to analyze exactly how ads are influencing
contacts where they are in the buyer’s journey. This will help you understand which
ads actually work, justify SEM as a channel, and integrate your advertising in with the
rest of your marketing efforts.

Ever wish you could see which keywords your competitors are buying on Google, or
check out which ad tests they’ve run? With SpyFu, you’re able to do just that — simply
search a domain, and you’ll see every keyword that business has bought on Adwords,
every organic keyword for which they’ve ranked, and every ad variation they’ve had in
the last 12 years. Plus, you can monitor your own paid and SEO rankings on Google,
Bing, and Yahoo.

WordStream is a advertising management solution that can help you research,
measure, and optimize your ads for performance. You get access to advanced
reporting features for data analysis and tools for creating great ads. In addition,
WordStream has alerts and workflow tools to help you make decisions about your
One of the most helpful features of is its ability to tap into Google,
Bing, YouTube, Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, and the App Store, so that you’re able to
segment your keyword research through various channels and better target your
efforts. Additionally, the tool takes your base keyword and provides you with
variations of words and phrases, which allows you to cultivate a more extensive list of
possible keywords you might want to include in a paid ad.
Using Google Autocomplete to provide relevant keywords for you, the free version of lets you generate up to 750 long-tail keywords and keyword
suggestions for every search term. Plus, you can use the tool to analyze search trends
on Google, to ensure your desired keywords are increasing in popularity and will
continue to serve you well over the long-term.

Challenges and Mitigations in using SEM

Search engine marketing is so volatile now that even news is causing bidding wars in
some categories. Increasing competition in search engine marketing is making it
virtually impossible for advertisers with limited budgets to maintain top rankings.
There is so much competition for popular keyword phrases such that many advertisers
cannot afford top positions on the major search engines. Advertisers may be
compelled to turn to second-tier search engines in search of better position and
greater ROI. Smaller engines offer lower bid prices, but are often faced with the
problem of click fraud, in which competitors or affiliates click on advertisements
themselves, either running up a competitor’s ad spending or increasing their own
compensation. Competition such as this often causes advertisers to turn to smaller
search engines, which tend to have lower cost per click (CPCs) than the leaders. The
smaller engines pay their partner sites a share of the revenues every time an ad is
clicked on. Often the advertisers do not even know what sites their ads are showing
up on. Many of these marketers experience a difference between the number of
bought clicks and the number of clicks the Web site actually recorded (lost traffic),
which is frequently a result of click fraud. There are two major types of click fraud:
“competitor fraud, in which competitors run programs that repeatedly click on
competing advertisers’ sponsored links in order to deplete their daily ad budget, or
affiliate fraud, in which affiliates utilize similar programs that repeatedly click on a
link in order to increase their compensation.
This is not just a problem for those advertising on lesser-known search engines, as it
occurs on major engines as well. Click fraud is a huge problem because it is very
difficult to detect.

The most effective way to combat click fraud is for Web masters to closely monitor
analytic software that determines where incoming clicks originated. Another strategy
is to display a pop up after repeated clicks on an ad through the same IP address,
warning the user that the Webmaster is monitoring recurring search engine visits.
There is no ideal way to prevent click fraud, but these steps can help to minimize
overall traffic losses.
Greater user personalization is being explored as a way to allow advertisers to
connect with even more targeted customers than at present. For example, if a user
types the phrase new car into a search engine today, he or she will typically see
advertisements for large, national companies.
Search engines would like to be able to serve advertisements relevant to the user’s
location, income level, family size, etc. This could potentially reduce competition
among advertisers by categorizing them according to user preferences and income.
Click fraud is very difficult to detect, and the best solution is the implementation of
advanced software systems that track the locations of incoming clicks. Despite these
obstacles, an SEM campaign, when properly implemented, has proven that it should
be a fundamental part of any well-developed interactive marketing strategy.

As you’ve learned, Search Engine Marketing has become increasingly important and
essential for businesses today. We understand that though this information is
educational, it can also be intimidating to develop & executing an effective SEM
campaign alone. That’s where a digital marketing agency can assist. When looking to
partner with a digital marketing agency, it’s important to shop around and make sure
they are a full-service digital marketing agency that excels in not just SEM but other
areas that can propel your digital marketing strategy forward. SEO and PPC are a
small cog in the wheel of Digital Marketing. Also, consider email marketing, social
media, content strategy, and website development. Digital Marketing trends are
always changing and having a team that can accurately & effectively interpret your
data is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *